Mercedes, AMG, and Garrett Bringing E-Turbos to Production

  • Mercedes and AMG, in partnership with turbo specialist Garrett, will be installing electrified turbochargers in the next generation of high-performance Mercedes-AMG vehicles.
  • The e-turbo tech comes from Formula 1.
  • Turbo lag is said to be eliminated, and horsepower per liter could see a serious spike, making this a big boost to engine performance.

We already knew that Mercedes-AMG had plans to install an electrified turbocharger in the F1-powered One, but the brand announced it would put the turbo tech in its next generation of vehicles, too. This electric turbo, or simply “e-turbo,” was developed in partnership with Garrett, a Tier 1 supplier and leader in turbocharger technologies. This marks the now rare occasion that technology pioneered in racing actually trickles down to the road cars. And it’s promising: AMG’s current M139 turbo 2.0-liter makes more than 200 horsepower per liter in its spiciest form. There is a legitimate chance that a 2.0-liter with the Garrett e-turbo could make 225 horsepower per liter, or more.

For the non-racing fans out there, an e-turbo essentially marries an electric motor with a turbocharger. The common shaft on which the exhaust turbine spins the compressor also carries an electric motor. In the case of this e-turbo, the electric motor is particularly small. Measuring just 1.6 inches in length, this tiny 48-volt motor has a big effect. Turbo lag, or the sensation of delayed response from a turbocharged engine when you hit the gas, is said to be eliminated. This may not sound like a big deal, but by spinning the compressor up to speed independent of exhaust energy or engine speed, the e-turbo can produce meaningful boost at any time. Anti-lag, or maintaining maximum boost pressure while you are off throttle, is possible, too. Plus, when desired, the motor can act as a generator and harvest a small amount of electricity when boost isn’t required. The AMG e-turbo and its electronics are liquid cooled.

This isn’t Mercedes’s first experiment with electrified forced induction. In addition to the racing applications, Mercedes-AMG’s -53 models come with a turbocharged and supercharged inline-six. That supercharger is in fact an electrically driven compressor. The e-turbo is just the next evolutionary step in forced induction. The biggest benefit to the enthusiast crowd is what the turbo can do for outright engine performance. No longer will engineers have to reduce the turbo size to improve drivability—meaning the inline-4 shown in these photos may very well be the next king of specific output.